Movie Analysis: Promising Young Woman

Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra in the film, but faced criticism by many male audiences for looking too old. (Photo Courtesy of The Gradian)

For women's history month I wanted to finish with a strong film that depicted women’s struggles, so I decided on “Promising Young Woman”. 

The following movie analysis has references to sexual asult and rape.  

This film is an in depth look at what happens when vidcumes of sexual assult or rape don’t get taken seriously. This is a very hard movie to watch, but I think it will be a new standard that we set on how movies about these topics are handled. 

“Promising Young Woman” was released on Dec. 25th 2020 and was written and directed by Emerald Fennell. So far this Crime, Drama Thriller has grossed 5 million in the US and 10 million world wide. 

The film stars Carrey Mulligan as Cassandra, Bo Burnham as Ryan and Alison Brie as Madison. 

Promising Young Woman is a film about a woman who deals with a great tragedy that everyone has forgotten about. (Image courtesy by vitalthrills.com)

Although it’s recent debut, it has already gotten 87 awards and 180 nominations including 5 Oscar Nominations. The nominations for the film are for Best Motion Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Film Editing. 

According to IMDB, the film only took 23 days to film, which is a very quick turnaround time for an average film. Although it alludes to it quite heavely, the words rape or sexual assult are never said in the film. “Promising Young Woman can be viewed on Youtube. 

Going into this film I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I was surprised at every turn. A notable scene that I really liked was the beginning when they were showing business men gyrating their hips like how we would traditionally see women in the beginning of some films. I think this set up the tone of the movie quite well. If you couldn't handle that beginning scene, this wouldn’t be the movie for you. Though the movie the cinematography greatly captures how alone Cassandra feels after losing her friend. I also like how you don’t get told out right what happened to Madison in the beginning, you are expected to put the pieces together as the story goes on. I think what’s been interesting about this film is how it portrays “nice guys” 

In the movie all the guys are “nice” but they do things that clearly aren't ok. Even the character that you think won't turn out to be the bad one is. All the men in the film at one point say that they are nice guys and it’s such a good way to talk about this issue. Most men who assault people claim to be “nice guys” and don’t understand the harm that they do. 

Another thing that the film  does is address internalized misogyny. I think a part of the film that brought chills to me the most was when the superintendent in the film was talking to Cassandra about how she didn’t want to ruin the boy's life. It wasn’t until Cassandra talked about how the superintendent's daughter was alone with alcohol and a group of older men where with her that she finally took Cassandra seriously. This was extremely frightening and a conversation I bet many women have had to hear. The way that they executed this part of the movie was also excellent. 

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone. I think stylistically it’s really amazing, and accompanied with amazing acting and writing.

Do you have any recommendations on what films I should look into next? Send your suggestions to news2@thenorthernlight.org

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